Freedom from Fear and Depression
On Friday, May 11, as part of National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week (sponsored by Freedom From Fear Foundation), the Psychological Services Center (PSC) at UMass Amherst will be offering free anxiety and depression screening sessions for the local and campus community.
Anxiety and depressive disorders are among the most common of all mental illnesses, afflicting more than 19 million Americans each year. They can be severe, chronic, extremely impairing to those affected by them, and can also have a devastating impact on family members.
Anxiety symptoms can come in many forms, including intense fears about specific items or situations (phobias), unexplained panic attacks (panic disorder), anxiety in social/performance situations (social phobia), compulsive behavior related to obsessive thoughts (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety associated with witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder), and more general free-floating anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder).
Common depressive symptoms include extreme sadness, decreases in pleasure, agitation or irritability, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. In some cases, individuals can experience cycling mood symptoms in which they fluctuate between depression and mania, a state associated with extreme happiness, grandiosity, extreme irritability, or even psychotic symptoms.
While the symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders can be quite severe, considerable research has documented the effectiveness of treatment using psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
PSC, the teaching clinic for the Clinical Psychology program, offers low-fee psychotherapy and psychological assessment services to the community. PSC has a long history of offering high-quality, low-cost psychotherapy to clients who are in need, such as those without health insurance or who have inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services. As a sponsoring site for National Anxiety and Depression Screening Day, PSC aims to raise community awareness about anxiety and depression. On May 11, individuals can meet with a clinician to discuss symptoms of and treatments for anxiety and depression, as well as receive referrals to PSC clinicians and other local treatment providers. Taken in on a walk-in basis, participants will receive free validated parking for the UMass on-campus parking garage.
PSC Director Dr. Christopher Overtree describes this program “as one of several new initiatives designed to increase access in the Pioneer Valley to quality mental health services and reduce the stigma that is often associated with seeking mental health treatment.” Since September 2006, when PSC intitated a program offering low-fee psychological assessments, the center has provided over $35,000 of free and reduced-fee care. Its low-cost psychotherapy services for adults, children, adolescents, couples, and families have been continuously available since 1963.
For more information about National Anxiety and Depression Screening Day or other programs, contact the Psychological Services Center by phone at 413.545.0041, by email at email@example.com, or visit the PSC website at www.umass.edu/psc. Information about National Anxiety and Depression Awareness week and the Freedom From Fear Foundation can be found at www.freedomfromfear.org.
April 12, 2007